Be Less Stressed in Family Court
Bring a book.Bring a book, a Sudoku puzzle, put Plants vs. Zombies on your iPhone (assuming your court will allow you to bring the phone into the courthouse). Your case is probably one of dozens on the docket for the day, and you will likely spend at least an hour or two waiting. Rather than thinking through all the what-ifs, bring some quiet entertainment.
Come alone.In most cases, I tell my clients not to bring anyone. There are some clients who may benefit from having moral support, but generally, bringing friends and family to court is not a good idea. The judge is not going to take a straw poll to see whose extended family has shown more support. As an attorney, I find it's a lot harder to get a good result for my client when either side has brought friends or family. Most of the time, it just increases the level of conflict without providing any real benefit. The only time I advise a client to bring someone with them is if I think I might need that person's testimony or if I think that having someone there will help that particular client. NEVER bring your children unless the child's testimony is necessary, and avoid pulling a child out of school for court whenever possible.
Know what to expect.If you don't know what's going to happen, ask your attorney to explain. In all likelihood, the entire case will not be resolved in one day, and custody, support, and visitation are issues that may be revisited anytime there is a change in circumstances. As one of our local judges said one day in court, "I've got job security - y'all can keep coming back until the child is eighteen." Additionally in the category of knowing what to expect, keep in mind that real life is not television. The court may have several dozen cases on the docket and hear testimony in only one or two. The vast majority of cases settle, and trials are relatively rare. In most cases, the attorney's job is to negotiate the best settlement possible, not to put on dramatic testimony that proves it was Colonel Mustard in the library with the old flame.
Plan ahead.Find out where the courthouse is, where you can park, how much it will cost, how you can pay, how long it will take you to get to court, and what you can bring. You cannot bring anything that can be used as a weapon. If you try to bring a gun, you may be arrested. I was turned away from the courthouse because my knitting needles were considered a weapon. Many courthouses prohibit cell phones and/or camera phones. Federal courthouses have rules about liquids similar to those for airports.
Of all the things you might plan, your outfit is one of the most important. Don't wear shorts, hats, or denim. Do not dress provocatively: nothing tight, low cut, or above the knee. No matter how great the urge is to show your ex what he's missing out on, resist. Keep it classy. Business casual is good: trousers, a nice sweater, a decent shirt, and/or a knee length skirt or dress. Court is not the place to express yourself through your personal appearance.